When the son of a friend, sadly died in a motor accident some time back, appears before you and looks and feels exactly like his father with a brilliant peppering of his lovely mother, it is throat lumping business. Chris Swanepoel, named for Dad, a former Stellenbosch Winemaker, is working in Germany as head of marketing for a wine company in Stuttgart. His fellow Kontras partner is Johannes Kopp who on his family Estate, Weingut Kopp in Baden specialises in Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc.
Chris came bearing his two wines, The Kontras Wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 and a Chenin Blanc 2018, grapes from the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation. The labeling and packaging is so stylish. Logos by well known Cape Artist Theo Vorster.
The Cabernet Sauvignon from the slopes of the Simonsberg and the Chenin Blanc was from 40-year-old vineyards, also in the Stellenbosch Wine Appellation. After fermentation the Cabernet Sauvignon underwent over a month of on skin maceration before maturation in French oak barrels of which 70% were new. Infanticide to drink it now, however it is eminently drinkable with the classic Cabernet Crème de Cassis flavours, Agen prune plums. Well-seasoned with a fynbos herbaceousness, and fine-grained tannins, the wine is fresh and long on aftertaste. It reminds of Bordeaux but is so totally Stellenbosch. What a privilege to drink a wine of classic beauty, no full-frontal Dolly Parton fruit here – more Sarah Vaughan, soft gravel tones and reticence. This stunner of a Cabernet was made at the heart of the worst drought in living memory and has come through brilliantly.
The Chenin Blanc 2018 was fermented using natural vineyards yeasts. Fermentation took place in 500 litre French oak barrels, 500 litres in size. Maturation took place, also in 500 litre barrels, 40% of them new for a further six months. The ultimate wine has a relatively low alcohol. From entry there is a golden thread of acidity which runs seamlessly through to the long and gently waning aftertaste. It is a truly sublime wine, vibrant and a total joy to drink. All white wines should taste like this. The aromas are of tropical fruit, guava, desiccated pineapple and melon. Though dry, it tastes of sweet tropical limes, greengage plums and poached quince. Certainly, one of my great wines so far this year.
The new vintages were recently launched in Germany. Chris’s mother and accomplished cook from the West Coast Marietjie Koekemoer Swanepoel went over and cooked Cape Foods for the functions and included the recipe I have from the wonderful Maggie Pepler for her Malva Pudding. CLICK HERE for the recipe.
These wines need to be tasted and with the small production, it is going to take time to spread the word and to bring the wine to tasters.
Read more about Kontras Wines on their Facebook page – CLICK HERE